The Concept of “E-Flat”
Point of departure
“E-flat” will refer to an emergency flat, a place where people in dire need can find shelter at a short notice. We don’t understand E-flat as a charity project, but rather envision an additional space of self-organization within and among migrant communities. The emergency flat to be established shall not be run by social workers, but by migrants and/or refugees. It is supposed to be a place principally open to every person in an emergency situation.
This project is being founded because, in the context of the Dublin regulations and increasing cuts in the social welfare systems, more and more “refugees in limbo” are currently on the move, and furthermore “homeless migrations” from Southeastern Europe are on the rise. Ideally, the project will be part of a European network of Centers of Hospitality, or else of Solidarity Cities.
E-flat is not an alternative housing project, but rather a project of short-term emergency aid. Typically, individuals won’t stay in the emergency flat for longer than ten days. During that time, another, longer-term accommodation is to be sought, as required by circumstances and by those in need (the idea of “Mietpatenschaften” / “rental sponsorships” is a complementary project); in addition, social welfare is to be claimed. Contacts to allies like Exilverein, Café Mandela, and specific lawyers are to be established and used.
E-flat is a project of Solidarity City Osnabrück. It is organizationally situated at the intersection of People on the Move and Homeless Migration, on the one hand, and municipal interests of the city of Osnabrück, on the other. According to the Solidarity City idea, we don’t wish to enter into a state of antagonism with the city of Osnabrück, but rather one of productive cooperation or at least mutual tolerance. No Deportation is the common denominator that we are seeking in Osnabrück, the “Friedensstadt” / “City of Peace.”
We are looking for a five- to six-bedroom apartment with kitchen and bathroom, close to central locations like the main station, Café Mandela, the social services office, etc. A tolerant neighborhood is inevitable. Two (bed)rooms are to be reserved for those who respectively run, and thus live in, the emergency flat. Two to three persons can temporarily reside in each of the other rooms. One room is to be so equipped as to accommodate a whole family.
Who can get access, and how?
Direct regular access to the emergency flat cannot be provided. Rather, in analogy to women’s shelters, criteria are to be developed that help determining those who can get access.
Contact can possibly be established via an emergency hot-line, the number of which is known within a network of allies and friends, via an open office hour at Café Mandela, or via other allied organizations like the railway mission or even the police. E-flat has to be part of a broader network of already existing projects within the SolCity context.
We must see to it that anybody who stays in the emergency flat can move freely throughout the city of Osnabrück. They will require an official place of residence as well as a broadly accepted status of being protected, similar to cases of church asylum. Like women’s shelters, the E-flat is supposed to be a place of sanctuary.
To that end, we wish to approach church representatives and ask them to officially support the E-flat. We intend to agree upon terms of tolerance with the police and seek to convince the city administration that this is a project of peace and deserves municipal support.